If you suffer from low back pain and want to avoid taking strong pain medication, you might want to consult a physical therapist first, suggests a recent study published online May 23, 2018, by Health Services Research.
Researchers reviewed insurance claims for approximately 150,000 adults, ages 18 to 64, who had been newly diagnosed with low back pain. They found that those who first consulted a physical therapist had an 89% lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription compared with those who saw another type of medical provider. They were also less likely to have an MRI or CT scan or to seek out emergency care for their pain.
The reason, according to the researchers, is that physical therapists have specialized knowledge in treating musculoskeletal conditions like low back pain that other providers do not, and their approach to treating pain with specific exercises and body alignment may help provide pain relief with less medication.